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Knee pain? Could be your meniscus!

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

Background

Meniscus injuries are a common knee complaint most generally affecting athletes involved in high-intensity activities. The menisci are a ‘C’-shaped disc of cartilage tissue found inside the knee allowing smooth movement of the joint. Their anatomical function is to evenly distribute forces going through the joint and absorb shock. When damage occurs to the meniscus, the cartilage will ‘tear’. It is commonly believed there are two types of meniscus injuries: acute and degenerative.

Acute

Occurs when the shear stress generated within the knee during flexion and compression, combined with rotation at the femur, exceeds the ability of the meniscus to resist these forces. Most often a sporting related injury.

Degenerative

As the name suggests, this type of meniscus injury occurs over time and is more ‘wear and tear’ related. Evidently affects the older population more frequently without an inciting event and without noticeable symptoms. Arthritic change to the knee is a secondary effect from meniscus damage.


Presentation and Symptoms

Pain and restriction of knee range of motion Inconsistent and unprompted ‘locking’ of the knee Often occurs in association with an ACL injury

Examination of a meniscus tear may reveal:

·       Joint tenderness with palpation 

·       Pain – usually present with knee flexion

·       Restricted knee joint movement

Note: larger tears may present with more severe symptoms, and symptoms can represent other pathology as well. 

How does it happen?

The most common mechanism of injury is a twisting motion at the knee whilst the foot is fixed to the ground. The twisting does not have to be of high velocity to damage the meniscus.

Treatment

It is important to note that treatment is heavily dependent on the severity of the injury. Please see on of our Physiotherapists in Kew, Physiotherapists in Oakleigh or Podiatrists in Oakleigh, before undertaking any of the following treatment.

A small tear presenting with pain but not mechanical symptoms (such as locking or decreased range of motion) will often initially be treated non-surgically. Treatment may include resting combined with a rehabilitation programto strengthen quadriceps and hamstrings. Neuromuscular trainingis often incorporated to avoid future injury.

The majority of meniscus injuries will fall between the extremities of needing no intervention and immediate surgery. Treatment choices will be made on the basis of symptom severity as well as the effect on quality of life. An elite athlete may opt for immediate surgical intervention, whereas a casual patient not interested in performing high-intensity activities may opt for a more conservative approach.

It is pivotal that you consult with your local healthcare professional if you injure your knee and have concerns over meniscus problems. If you have any further questions or require treatment on your knee, please call us on (03) 9568 1011 or visit www.msppc.com.au and make an appointment to see one of our friendly staff.

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